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Laura Jean Bierut, MD

Current Position
Alumni Endowed Professor of Psychiatry

University Roles
Vice Chair for Faculty Development

Education and Training
B.A.: Harvard Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1982
Medical Degree: Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1987
Residency: Psychiatry, Washington University/Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, 1991

Major Awards
Sidney I. Schwab Prize in Psychiatry
Washington University Book Award
International Brain Research Organization Award
Tenth Annual Nancy C.A. Roeske, M.D., Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Medical Student Education awarded by the American Psychiatric Association, 1999/2000
Distinguished Teaching Award voted by students for work as course master of Diseases of the Nervous System: Psychiatry, 1997
Washington University Alumni Award, 2007
NIDA Independent Scientist Award
The Best Doctors in America (Psychiatry), 2009-2016
Washington University Founders Day Award, 2009
Alpha Omega Alpha, 2010
WUSM 2012 Distinguished Educator Postdoctoral Research Mentoring Award
The Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease, 2014

Areas of Clinical Interest
Smoking behavior, substance dependence, genetically informed clinical care


Areas of Research Interests
As a physician scientist, I have led several studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study environmental and genetic contributions to smoking behaviors, addiction and other psychiatric and medical illnesses. I am an active member in the NIDA Genetics Consortium, a national group of scientists who are leading NIDA’s efforts to understand genetic causes of substance dependence. My research group conducted the initial studies which found that the a5 nicotinic receptor subunit genes on chromosome 15 and the a6ß3 nicotinic receptor subunit genes on chromosome 8 increase a smoker’s risk for nicotine dependence. In collaboration with other groups, we have since demonstrated that the same genetic variants that contribute to smoking in the chromosome 15 region also influence the development of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We are currently exploring how to translate genetic information to guide more effective clinical care. We have ongoing studies of genetic factors and smoking cessation treatment.
Lab website: https://healthbehaviorcenter.wustl.edu

More articles and abstracts at the National Library of Medicine

Key Publications
Olfson, E., Saccone, N. L., Johnson, E. O., Chen, L. S., Culverhouse, R., Doheny, K., . . . Bierut, L. J. (2016). Rare, low frequency, and common coding variants in CHRNA5 and their contribution to nicotine dependence in European and African Americans. Mol Psychiatry, 21(5):601-607.  Full Article ->

Chen, L. S., Hung, R. J., Baker, T., Horton, A., Culverhouse, R., Saccone, N., . . . Bierut, L. J. (2015). CHRNA5 risk variant predicts delayed smoking cessation and earlier lung cancer diagnosis--a meta-analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst, 107(5). pii: djv100.   Full Article ->

Grucza, R. A., Hur, M., Agrawal, A., Krauss, M. J., Plunk, A. D., Cavazos-Rehg, P. A., . . . Bierut, L. J. (2015). Medical marijuana laws and suicide. Am J Public Health, 105(8), e3. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302745.   Full Article ->

Hartz, S. M., Olfson, E., Culverhouse, R., Cavazos-Rehg, P., Chen, L. S., DuBois, J., . . . Bierut, L. J. (2015). Return of individual genetic results in a high-risk sample: enthusiasm and positive behavioral change. Genet Med, 17(5), 374-379.   Full Article ->

Cavazos-Rehg PA, Krauss MJ, Sowles SJ, Bierut LJ. “Hey everyone, I’m drunk.” An evaluation of drinking-related Twitter chatter. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2015; 76(4):635-43.   Full Article ->

Olfson E, Edenberg HJ, Nurnberger J, Agrawal A, Bucholz KK, Almasy LA, Chorlian D, Dick DM, Hesselbrock VM, Kramer JR, Kuperman S, Porjesz B, Schuckit MA, Wang JC, Wetherill L, Foroud T, Rice J, Goate A, Bierut LJ. An ADH1B variant and peer drinking in progression to adolescent drinking milestones: Evidence of a gene-by-environment interaction. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2014; 38(10):2541-2549.   Full Article ->

Funded Research Projects
NIAAA (SUNY)(PI):Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism
NIDA (PI): Nicotine Dependence to Smoking Cessation: Sequencing Common and Rare Variants
NIDA (Co-investigator): Genetically Informed Smoking Cessation Trial
NIDA (Co-investigator): Implications of Social Media Content and Engagement for Alcohol and Marijuana Use
NIDA (Co-investigator): Utilizing Interaction to Identify Novel Genetic Factors for Nicotine Dependence
NIDA (Co-investigator): Enhancing Discovery of HIV Host Genetics Using Drug Abuse and Other Interactions
NIMH (Co-investigator): Center for Genomic Studies on Mental Disorders
NCI: (Key Personnel): Cancer Center Support Grant